The World's Violence Against Women

Female genital mutilation (FGM), recently recognized by the US Board of Immigration Appeals as grounds for asylum, is just one aspect of the increasingly visible problem of violence against women. Toni Nelson argues that male efforts to control women's sexuality underlies not only FGM, but also what may be the most pervasive threat to women: domestic violence. Large-scale surveys in 10 countries, including the United States, show that as many as one-third of women have been physically assaulted by an intimate male partner. Gender-based violence takes a host of other forms as well: abortion of female fetuses, female infanticide, child sexual abuse, rape, and forced prostitution. The few attempts to calculate the costs to society include a 1995 Canadian study, which found that violence against women drains the country of $1.1 billion annually in medical expenses, community support services, and lost work.